Welcome to the first of this season’s edition of What Would You Do Wednesday! I’ll be your host today and every other Wednesday, J.D. Burke.
That was quite the Canucks pre-season. Lots of shaking and moving throughout the lineup. One of the professional tryouts is all but signed; one of the kids made the veterans more than a little uncomfortable with their job security. It’s the kind of thing you hope for with internal competition at training camp.
Vancouver’s camp wasn’t without casualties, though. Anton Rodin appears headed for injured reserve after re-aggravating his knee injury. Emerson Etem is on a one-way ticket to Utica. And in a move that strikes me as more than a bit odd, the Canucks sent Andrey Pedan to the farm, too.
So, with that in mind, how do your opening night lines look? I’ll provide an example on the other side of the jump, so that you know which pieces are in play.
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Jannik Hansen
Sven Baertschi – Bo Horvat – Loui Eriksson
Markus Granlund – Brandon Sutter – Jake Virtanen
Alexandre Burrows – Brendan Gaunce – Derek Dorsett
Extra: Jack Skille — IR: Anton Rodin
Alexander Edler – Chris Tanev
Ben Hutton – Erik Gudbranson
Nikita Tryamkin – Philip Larsen
Extra: Alex Biega, Luca Sbisa
Last week we asked:
who makes the opening night roster if you had the choice? Who doesn’t make the cut?
Stecher is a first year pro coming into the NHL and while Hutton might be an exception in general I think it’s better to get players used to the relative ease of an NCAA schedule a more gradual introduction to the grind of the pro game. Some time in Utica will be good for his development. Gaunce and Labate too, I think more time in Utica won’t be bad, rather than playing fourth line and press box minutes here. For a 13th forward to rotate in I’d definitely go with Skille, along with probably Pedan/Tryamkin/Larsen/Sbisa as the bottom pairing/press box D. Virtanen might need to go down and rehab the shoulder and get his confidence going. Skille is four years younger than Ruutu and had a decent year as a bottom six forward for Colorado last year. The only way that Ruutu makes more sense is if you decide to put Granlund on the wing with Horvat and Hansen for a decent two-way line (my preference would be to have Sutter as the 3C with Burrows and Hansen for a good shutdown line and Horvat-Baertschi-Rodin as a sheltered scoring 2nd line but I don’t know that’s going to happen). In that case you could put Ruutu between Etem and Dorsett.
My optimal case would be that the Canucks actually demote Sbisa and Biega, carry Ruutu, Skille and Pedan as the extras but it’s unlikely to happen.
Send down the sedins, they havent shown up ONCE during the preseason! All kidding aside, I would send down Gaunce, Virtanen, Beiga, Stecher and Etem. Keep Skille or Ruutu. If you keep one of the two PTOs then keep Etem for 13th fwrd. I am not sold on Granlund being a 4th line center. He looked really good with Baertschi and Rodin, or as a winger himself. Sedins could play with Eriksson, Sutter, or Hansen. Eriksson would make it a legit first line, Sutter would give them the RH faceoff guy, and we know what Hansen can do there. With Sutter or Hansen there, it would provide our second line with more firepower, and Eriksson could play on his natural side. Lines in my eye would like this:
Sedin-Sedin-Eriksson Baertschi-Horvat-Rodin Granlund-Sutter-Hansen Skille-Ruutu-Dorsett Burrows
Sedin-Sedin-Eriksson Baertschi-Horvat-Rodin Burrows-Sutter-Hansen Skille-Granlund-Dorsett Etem
Sedin-Sedin-Sutter Eriksson-Horvat-Hansen Baertschi-Granlund-Rodin Burrows-Ruutu-Dorsett Etem
Edler-Tanev Hutton-Gudbranson Sbisa-Larson Pedan-Tryamkin
….ahhh i cannot decide! Good thing I am not making these decisions
Stecher is making the team. Look how amazing he’s been on the powerplay and he has not even played with the Sedins and Ericson. Surely that is not lost on WD and JB. They have to convince Tryamkin to go Utica along with Pedan. I know there was a lot of JB hype on Larsson – but he hasn’t really done anything.
Gaunce has to make the team, and Etem and Dorsett rotate in the press box. Canucks have 48 out of the max 50 contracts, so I don’t see Skille and Ruutu being signed.
Sedins & Eriksson Bae, Bo, Rodin Granlund, Sutter, Hansen Skille, Gaunce, Dorsett Burrows
Edler – Tanev Hutton – Guds Sbisa – Larsen Pedan – Biega Tryamkin (?)
Keep Skille over Rutuu because Granlund can backup Gaunce at centre. Skille is a better depth winger with more size, grit and Skille 😉
Etem gets put on waivers to Utica ASAP. Or…he could start with the team as a final trial. This hopefully means that Skille is signed to a lucrative 2-way deal as a backup option.
Virtanen to Utica for an extended period of time. He needs more minutes and development so he can become the legitimate top 6 forward everyone wants him to be.
I love Stetcher but the Canucks honestly are not ready for him. Give him one year Utica. He then takes over Sbisas spot when we lose him in expansion draft next summer.
Finally, I would like to see Tryamkin also go to Utica. He needs it. Not sure if he’s willing though…
Biega would then be the 8th Dman and shortly become expansion draft eligiable.
If Jack Skille and Tuomo Ruutu are playing well enough to stay, I’d like them to stay, as long as the guys they push out don’t have to clear waivers to go to Utica. ’51
The Canucks management have declared that they are striving for the playoffs, an attitude I approve of.
But if they are going to make a serious attempt then they will have to take a few chances. This means Rodin and Virtanen — two talented but inexperienced players — should be given middle-six positions from the first day of the season. Playing it safe with Burrows or Granlund (on right wing) in the middle six has limited up side.
Lots to consider here. My take is that Etem and Pedan have not been good enough to make the team. I was really excited about Larsen but he is soft and his defensive game is not good enough. I love Tryamkin’s size but he should not be selected on that alone. His foot speed is only OK especially when changing directions and his position and timing are still off. I want him to make it but it will be half a season of a liability until I think he can be a real positive on the ice. All that being said I think he makes it.
Sbisa is making the team to think otherwise is silly. He was good in the WC as well. so I think you keep Stetcher and Biega as spares but getting Stecher in whenever possible.
At the front Ruttu would be an excellent 4th liner that could move up if needed. Send Vrtana, Etem Skille, Labate down with Vrtanen being the first call up. He needs to get his game rolling in Utica with big minutes. Rodin is a great player from what I have seen and is not going to benefit as much from Utica. Keep Gaunce as he can roll in on the fourth line as a winger or Center; or roll into the third line as a winger. So: SSE; BHR; BSH;RGD; spare Gaunce
I don’t get why everyone is so down on Etem. He is going to be be asked to play 4th line minutes, fore check hard, and provide a bit of secondary scoring. His rivals for roster spots are PTOs (Skillet and Ruutu) who have less upside and are unlikely contribute more. Or younger players who would benefit from bigger minutes in Utica, and are unlikely to contribute much if any more.
The smart play is to keep him. Little risk with some upside. The shiny new/old thing is alluring but the long term value is questionable.